Banjul, West Africa. May 17, 2014. Sizzla Kalonji is a liberator with a cause and simultaneously, the Cultural Ambassador for the 11th staging of the Gambia Roots International Festival in Banjul, West Africa. He is unapologetic as a Messenger and visions, a greater role for his work and mission. Kalonji says he is duty-bound to fulfill the work for which he is responsible. His powerful lyrics is creating life-changing results with powerful messages that produces a subliminal effect on his listeners.

While in concert in The Gambia, he taught his audience to use the indigenous languages of Africa: Amharic, Hebrew, Twe, Wolof and Mandinka.

At the closing Gala Event of the Gambia Roots Festival on Friday17, 2014, Sizzla Kalonji received a Halam instrument from the Ministry of Tourism & Culture presented by one of the Kora masters.  The Halam is a traditional wooden stringed instrument used by the Wolof and the Fullas.

Sizzla’s sensational performance at a recent concert in Independence Square, Banjul, during the first week of the Roots Festival was heightened by his backing band, which functioned like a well-oiled machine, turning out crowd-pleasing hit songs.  The original Firehouse Crew comprised of George Miller, Donald Dennis and Paul Crosdale, were joined by David Murray, Courtney Edwards, along with engineers Richard Bramwell, Anthony Williams and Robert Murphy.

Firehouse Crew gave the audience a taste of the Dancehall sensation and liberator. There was one drawback however, the set was short circuited by a local power outage. It was evident that The Cultural Ambassador’s love and message of liberation, freedom and responsibility was well received, because the audience remained under control during the electrical outage.

Joining Sizzla Kalonji in scintillating performances were Mutabaruka, Cultural Griot who received tremendous love and appreciation on stage and in the streets. Scratchylus, Empress Reggae, and African American pop star Yewande Austin, who were also among other international, as well as, Gambian artistes who performed.

Kalonji’s music catalogue included songs such as: Thank you Mama, Solid as a Rock, Holding Firm, Praise Ye jah, Good Ways and Guide Over us. Songs with popular mantras flooded the venue – “Solid as a Rock They can't keep a good man down. Always keep a smile when they want me to frown. Keep the vibes and they stood my ground. They will never ever take my crown Who Jah bless I say no man curse.”

Another demonstration of the audience’s love for Sizzla Kalonji was evident at the concert staged on Wednesday, May 15, 2014 at the end of the exciting Rites of Passage ‘Futampaf’ a Jola initiation ceremony hosted by Sheik, Professor, President Yahya Jammeh, where the new initiates demonstrated their personal dance routines. The President presided over the cultural dance session of ‘Futampaf’ and participated in the ceremonial rites during the eleventh staging of Gambia Roots Homecoming Festival.

Thousands of adoring fans erupted in roars of pleasure followed by cannon salute at the highly anticipated event organized by the government of The Gambia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The successful event is widely regarded as yet another milestone in the achievement of the country.



Sharon Parris-Chambers
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Olimatta Taal
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